Professional golfers or even those who are just a big fan of the sport, understand the importance of the caddie. Performing a variety of roles in the world of golf like keeping an eye on your ball or simply carrying your bag, caddies are often more than just a hired hand. When it comes to a professional level, caddies are a key member of a player’s team who provide vital support and information that may make the difference between victory and defeat. With the importance of the caddie in mind, a scholarship fund was created for the young men and women in service to golf to further enhance their lives through the pursuit of higher education with the help of donors like Jacob Gottlieb. This great opportunity is known as the Westchester Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Fund.
History of the Caddie Program
The WGA Caddie Scholarship Fund (CSF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that fosters the core values of personal responsibility, integrity and perseverance and provides college scholarships to qualified candidates based on financial need. As a premier charity in local golf, the CSF has enabled over 2,600 deserving young men and women to pursue their educational goals. Founded in 1956, the CSF not only offers the opportunity to caddies, but to others who work in service to golf at local participating golf and country clubs. The fund has grown exponentially since its beginnings. The first to be awarded the scholarship were six young men at about $10,000.
Today, with 289 recipients and a four year tuition commitment of $4.0 million, the WGA Caddie Scholarship Fund is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the country. For those who wish to be eligible for the scholarship, candidates must have at least two seasons of service under their belts. This service is known as “service to golf”, which includes anything from caddying and golf course maintenance, to work in the golf shop, bag room or on the practice range. During this program the caddie scholars will learn rules and etiquette all the while developing character and work ethic. This will give them a chance to build a unique camaraderie and open doors to exciting career opportunities.
The founding of this prestigious scholarship can be accredited to famous American amateur golfer, Willie Turnesa. One of seven well known golfing brothers, Willie was the only one not to turn professional. His older brothers forbade him to turn pro and pooled their money to send him to college where he graduated from Holy Cross in 1938 and won his first U.S. Amateur later that year at Oakmont Country Club. In 1947, Turnesa won the won the British Amateur at Carnoustie Golf Links, beating fellow American Dick Chapman 3&2. He won his second U.S. Amateur in 1948 and was runner-up in the 1949 British Amateur, losing to Irishman Max McCready.
He won numerous other amateur events after that along with playing on three straight winning Walker Cup teams in 1947, 1949, and 1951. The idea of the scholarship began when Willie was golfing with his good friend, Udo Reinach. After discussing their love and appreciation for golf, Willie and Udo felt it was important to be able to contribute and give back to that same level of appreciation. It was 1956 when they established the program for caddies from clubs in the Westchester County Area and named their organization the Reinach-Turnesa Scholarship Fund.
The organization shares a similarity with the Chick Evans and Ouimet Funds which were very successful. The funding for their organization came from their requests to friends at local clubs. Almost immediately, applications started flowing in. As they reviewed the applications, they culled the list and identified six qualified applicants. Unfortunately they could only afford to award three scholarships. Willie and Udo then drew the lucky three names from a hat. The next day, the local newspaper carried the story, including a complete list of the six qualified candidates and the three fortunate recipients.
After catching wind of this event in a local newspaper, a golfer from the Apawamis Club in Rye, N.Y. known as Sally Francis sent a check to Willie Turnesa to fund the remaining three applicants. This inspired the Fund’s mission never to turn away a qualified candidate with financial need.
Donor Jacob Gottlieb
Since then, the WGA Caddie Scholarship has continued to receive generous donations from people who believe in the organization. One notable donator is Jacob Gottlieb, CIO of the healthcare hedge fund known as Visium. Gottlieb has been a regular contributor to the fund for five years.
Jacob Gottlieb, an avid golfer and New Yorker, believes the program gives students the opportunity to grow as leaders and impact the golf world in a direct way. He also donates to Math for America, the Robin Hood foundation, and the Covenant House in New York among other charities. He is currently leading the wind down of the hedge fund Visium.
The majority of the receiving scholars have worked as caddies. The job itself is not only a great way to get exercise, but also to form a sense of camaraderie while doing the job. For those who have been a service to golf, the Westchester Golf Association Caddie Scholarship Fund is a great way to further education and create opportunities. The responsibilities of the caddie have not gone unnoticed.